Tatjana Ždanoka

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Tatjana Ždanoka
Tatjana Ždanoka1.JPG
Member of the European Parliament
Assumed office
July 2019
Member of the European Parliament
In office
July 2004 – March 2018
Succeeded byMiroslav Mitrofanov
Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia
Member of Parliament
for Riga 40th district
In office
May 1990 – June 1993
Personal details
Born (1950-05-08) 8 May 1950 (age 70)
Riga, Soviet Union
CitizenshipUSSR (until 1991)
stateless (1991—1996)
Latvia (since 1996)
Political partyLatvian Russian Union/LRU (since 2014)
For Human Rights in a United Latvia/ForHRUL (2007–2014)
Equal Rights (1993–2007)
Communist Party of Latvia (1971—1991)
Other political
European Free Alliance
Spouse(s)Aleksandrs Ždanoks
FatherArkady Hesin
Alma materUniversity of Latvia
AwardsOrden of Friendship.png

Tatjana Ždanoka (Russian: Татья́на Арка́дьевна Ждано́к, Tatyana Arkadyevna Zhdanok, born May 8, 1950 in Riga) is a Latvian politician and a Member of the European Parliament. She is co-chairwoman of the Latvian Russian Union and sits with the European Greens–European Free Alliance group.

In the period of 1988-1989 she was one of the leaders of the Interfront, a political organization opposing Latvia's independence from the Soviet Union and too rapid market reforms. She remained active in the Communist Party of Latvia after January 1991, when the party leadership called for a coup against the government of the Latvian SSR (in opposition to a restoration of independence). In 1997 Tatjana Ždanoka was elected to Riga municipal council. In 1999 she was deprived of the mandate in the Council and is prohibited from further nomination for election to the Latvian Parliament or local councils under Latvian law due to her former allegiance with the Communist Party after January 1991. She is (with Alfrēds Rubiks) in the peculiar position of being restricted to Europarliament elections.[1] Ždanoka has been co-chairwoman of the LRU and its predecessors since 2001.


Born 1950 in Riga, Ždanoka is of mixed Latvian Jewish-Russian origin. The family of her father was decimated by Latvian Nazi collaborators during World War II.[2]


Ždanoka became politically active in the late 1980s, at first a member of the Popular Front, she soon became one of the leaders of the Interfront, a political organization opposing Latvia's independence from the Soviet Union and too rapid market reforms. Prior to that, she taught mathematics at the University of Latvia, where she received her doctorate in mathematics in 1992. In 1989, she was elected to the Riga City Council, and in 1990, to the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR. Ždanoka was also active with the Communist Party of Latvia but never belonged to this party nomenclature.[citation needed]

From 1995 till 2004 Ždanoka was co-chairwoman of the Latvian Human Rights Committee (a member of FIDH).[3] She has also been one of the leaders of Equal Rights since it foundation in 1993 and of the For Human Rights in United Latvia alliance.

In 1999 Ždanoka was banned from running for the Latvian parliament Saeima and deprived of her seat on Riga City Council, because she had participated in two seats of the Communist Party's Audit Committee after the party leadership called for a coup against the elected government of the Latvian SSR in January 1991. Subsequently, she sued Latvia in the European Court of Human Rights.

With the court case pending, the Latvian parliament decided not to impose restrictions on former members of the Communist Party in the 2004 European Parliament elections. Ždanoka was elected to the European Parliament in June 2004 and won the court case a few days later with a margin of 5-2.[4] Latvia appealed the decision to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that Latvia's emergence from totalitarian rule brought about by the occupation of Latvia had not been sufficiently taken into account, and on March 16, 2006, the court ruled 13-4 that Ždanoka's rights had not been violated. The Court also called the Latvian legislature to "keep the statutory restriction under constant review, with a view to bringing it to an early end (..) the failure by the Latvian legislature to take active steps in this connection may result in a different finding by the Court".[5]

In 2005 Ždanoka became one of the founders of the EU Russian-Speakers' Alliance.[6]

In 2004, she ran successfully for MEP as a candidate of the largest Russian political bloc in Latvia.[7] She also won a seat in 2009.[1] In the European Parliament she was a member of the fraction The Greens–European Free Alliance.

In 2014 Ždanoka took part in the controversial Crimean referendum as an "international observer" in a trip paid by the European Union.[8] Her support for the referendum outcome of Crimea’s accession to Russia and other remarks were scolded by the president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz as being "completely contradictory to the position of the European Parliament and the EU." who said that she had "absolutely no right and certainly no mandate from this Parliament to make such comments on its behalf." Ždanoka responded by pointing out that Schulz is an MEP "just like she is", and that only her voters can tell her what to do.[9][10] Co-chairwoman of the Greens/European Free Alliance Rebecca Harms deemed Ždanoka's actions and statements as "totally unacceptable" and "in complete and direct opposition with the very clear position the Greens/EFA group has taken since the outset on this issue", calling the European Free Alliance to expel Ždanoka from its ranks. Ždanoka's actions were also condemned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs, with Ministry's press secretary Kārlis Eihenbaums pointing out that Ždanoka did not to represent Latvia nor the EU, as she did not have any official authorization from Latvian institutions to do so.[11]

On March 11, 2014 Ždanoka and her party organized a rally at the European Commission Representation in Riga participated by about 200 people who expressed support for Russians living in Crimea and separation of Crimea from Ukraine.[12] In May, Ždanoka suggested to the European Council to classify Ukrainian political bloc Right Sector as a "terrorist organization."[13]

In 2016 Ždanoka voted against the European Parliament resolution of 23 November that condemned the use of disinformation and propaganda by Russia and Islamist terrorist organisations and called for strengthening EU’s "strategic communication" task force, as well as investing more in awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism and information literacy.[14] Prior to the vote she distributed a letter to other MEPs, saying that the resolution crosses "all red lines" and that Russia's state-sponsored news and information channels are no different to Western media that exhibit "double standards", recommending them to watch Russia Today and form their own opinion of the channel.[15]

A submission has been made by another Latvian MEP, Kārlis Šadurskis, to the Latvian state prosecutor to investigate Ždanoka for undermining the Latvian state in her support for Russia. In his submission, Šadurskis pointed to her participation at events organised by "Essence of Time" that advocates the restoration of the USSR.[16] The application of Šadurskis was rejected by Security Police who did not find a crime in Ždanoka's actions.[17]

In January 2018 Ždanoka left European Parliament and returned to Latvian politics with the intention of running for 2018 Latvian parliamentary election in October.[18] She was named Latvian Russian Union's #1 ticket for Vidzeme region, however on August 21 Latvia's Central Election Commission removed her from the list of candidates on the same basis that barred her from running in the 1999.[19][20] Ždanoka contested it in the Administrative District Court, but the court upheld the decision made by the Central Election Commission.[21][22]

On March 5, 2019 State Security Service launched a criminal procedure over incitement to ethnic hatred or discord for Ždanoka's remarks at a discussion organized by her at the European Parliament, where she likened the situation of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Latvia to Jews prior the World War II.[23][24] The case was terminated by the SSS in 2020, for absence of any crime in Ždanoka's remarks.[25]

In 2020 Ždanoka, alongside her party members Miroslav Mitrofanov and Andrejs Mamikins, was included in the European Platform for Democratic Elections database of "biased observers" for backing disputed and rigged elections in Russia and occupied Ukraine[26]


The Jamestown Foundation's political analyst Vladimir Socor has called her a "radical" opposed to Latvian national statehood.[7]


  1. ^ a b Näf, Kaspar (June 11, 2009). "The European elections strengthened Russians of Latvian" (in Estonian). Postimees. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  2. ^ Lieven, Anatol. The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-300-06078-5, ISBN 978-0-300-06078-2. P. 442. "Zdhanoka, Tatiana: Born 1953. From a Riga Jewish family murdered by Latvian Nazi auxiliaries in 1941."
  3. ^ "Tatjana ŽDANOKA". European Parliament. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  4. ^ Eglitis, Aaron (July 1, 2004). "Zdanoka wins case in human rights court". The Baltic Times. Retrieved April 8, 2005.
  5. ^ ECtHR Grand Chamber judgment in Ždanoka v. Latvia para. 135
  6. ^ Sergeeva, Natalya (February 10, 2006). "Website of Russian Alliance presented" (in Russian). Delfi. Retrieved February 23, 2006.
  7. ^ a b Jamestown Foundation 23 May 2004: Zhdanok Candidacy Polarizes Latvian Election by Vladimir Socor
  8. ^ Rozenberga, Māra (November 24, 2015). "MEP's visit to Crimea paid for by European Parliament". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  9. ^ "EP President scolds Soviet relic for Crimea posture". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. September 26, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  10. ^ "Soviet relic Zdanoka reprimanded by EP President Schulz". The Baltic Times. September 29, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  11. ^ "Zdanoka's actions 'unacceptable,' says Harms". The Baltic Times. September 30, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  12. ^ "Zdanoka promotes Soviet manifesto". The Baltic Times. March 19, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  13. ^ "European Parliament Mulls Putting Right Sector on Terrorism List". Novinite. May 7, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "UPDATED: Latvia's MEPs split on Russian propaganda threat". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. November 25, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  15. ^ "Zdanoka leaps to the defense of Russia Today". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. November 25, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  16. ^ "Security Police investigates Latvian Pro-Kremlin MEP". Baltic News Network. April 3, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  17. ^ "No criminal charges to be filed against Zdanoka". The Baltic Times. March 29, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  18. ^ "Ždanoka quits Brussels to run Saeima campaign for party". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. January 15, 2018. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  19. ^ "Russian Union leader Ždanoka nixed from Saeima elections". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. August 21, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  20. ^ "Latvia's Russian Union leader Zdanoka barred from running in Saeima elections". The Baltic Times. August 30, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  21. ^ "No Saeima election run for Ždanoka". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. LETA. September 4, 2018. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  22. ^ "Court upholds Central Election Commission's decision banning Zdanoka from running in Saeima elections". The Baltic Times. September 4, 2018. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  23. ^ "Security Service starts case over Ždanoka's remarks in EP discussion". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. LETA. March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  24. ^ "State Security Service starts criminal procedure over Zdanoka's remarks in European Parliament discussion". The Baltic Times. March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  25. ^ СГБ закрыл дело против Жданок: состав преступления в ее высказываниях не обнаружен DELFI
  26. ^ "Five Latvian politicians named as 'politically biased election observers'". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. July 3, 2020. Retrieved July 19, 2020.

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